Title: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
Series: Wayfarers, #1
Author: Becky Chambers
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Release Date: July 15th, 2014
Length: 518 pages
Source: Gifted by my amazing #otspsecretsister Cassie
Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there.
But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she‘s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war.
Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this episodic tale weaves together the adventures of nine eclectic characters, each on a journey of their own.
Cassie, I could kiss you for sending this one to me. And can I just say: Publishers, I am aghast that none of you picked this book up for publication, and Becky Chambers had to self-publish. This is beautiful scifi- an ensemble cast, all fully developed and quirky; realistic consideration for how humanity would actually handle sharing the universe (and a poisoned Earth) with other species; actually alien aliens; socioeconomic and morality issues; friendship, rivalry, romance, family, the whole rainbow of emotions.
Our introduction to the crew of the Wayfarer comes via new member Rosemary, which is a classic way (especially in TV) to introduce an audience to an established environment. But Rosemary isn’t the MC- as we get deeper into the book, it becomes more episodic, with different parts following the challenges and journeys of each of the crew members. There’s plenty of forward momentum, but it’s exactly what I love with an ensemble cast- everyone gets the spotlight, and everyone gets a bit in someone else’s story. Ultimately, this crew is friendship, the good and bad sides.
I can definitely see the comparison to Firefly, although there are key differences: other species (which I think were handled fantastically, in that they have a range of cultures and non-human ideals, and the humans have to be sensitive to that), more above-board work (they’re space tunnelers, and the concept of how that works is fascinating but also easy for a non-aerospace person like me to grasp), more realistic science meets scifi, and wider themes (although we follow this plucky band of travelers, it isn’t only about them and their adventures). Think of your favorite science fiction TV show. It’s like that.
Overall, I recommend this for any and all fans of science fiction, especially space opera and episodic stories. I am so, so glad there’s going to be more in the series. I’m not ready to leave these characters yet, and I can’t wait to see what things await them as we go along.